The interview is both the most elusive and the most stressful part of the job-hunting process. You can spend weeks desperately looking for one, and then when you have it, you can spend days worrying about it. However, interviews don’t have to be an absolute nightmare. Being smart about your applications and doing the correct research will ensure you arrive at your interview confident, positive, and well-prepared.
Tailor Your Applications
Yes, it’s tempting to send every job you see the same resume and cover letter, but what you gain in speed you lose in value. The first mistake people make is applying for jobs they are only vaguely qualified for (if at all). This is a waste of time for everyone involved. While irrelevant applications are useless, generic applications are usually boring and unremarkable. Have a template resume and cover letter for the formatting and formalities, but tailor each one to the specific job. This includes clearly referring to the job’s requirements as listed in the advert and showing that you understand the company and its goals. Check for basic mistakes like typos, a lack of focus, and unjustified periods of inactivity in your resume.
You don’t have to send a follow-up email to every job application you send out, but it’s definitely worth it for a job you genuinely think you are perfect for. It’s easy for an application to be lost in the crowd, so anything that makes you stand out is a plus. Make sure you keep it to only one phone call or email — you don’t want to come off as annoying.
Do Your Homework
So you’ve got your interview — what’s next? The single most important thing you need to do is your homework. Look up potential job interview questions they are likely to ask you, and don’t forget to have a few questions of your own. Find out about the industry and company, and print out your resume and/or portfolio just in case.
Make sure you know exactly how you are getting to your interview, and if possible, do a trial run of the journey. Give yourself ample time to arrive there early — about 10 to 15 minutes is ideal, as anything more can be an inconvenience to them. Use this time wisely to make a good impression and put your mind in the right place.
When in doubt, overdress. For the vast majority of jobs, a suit for men and office wear for women is the way to go. If you are interviewing for a young and casual company, you can dress down somewhat, but you should still look neat and presentable. Indeed.com has advice on how to dress for every type of interview, including tips for business casual environments.
Smile And Chat
Professional but stiff is generally not a good look. We know interviews are stressful, but you should still do your best to seem personable and friendly — after all, managers hire people they like. Focus on maintaining a (genuine) smile throughout the conversation and work on your small talk to form a quick connection with the interviewer.
Follow Up (Again)
Very few interviewees do this, but it is always appreciated. A quick follow-up email when you get home from the interview (or the following day) shows good manners, reinforces your interest, and keeps communication open between you and the employer.
An interview may sound like an elaborate form of social torture, but it’s really just a conversation. The employer is trying to find out if you’re the person for the job, and convincing them shouldn’t be that hard if you are the person for the job. As long as you know what you can bring to the table and do your basic prep, everything should go smoothly.